The Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities & the Japanese American National Museum present:

BeHere / 1942
A New Lens on the Japanese
American Incarceration

Masaki Fujihata

May 7, 2022 – January 8, 2023
The Japanese American National Museum

It is hereby ordered that from and after 12 o’clock noon, P.W.T., of Saturday, May 9, 1942, all persons of Japanese ancestry, both alien and non-alien, be excluded from that portion of Military Area No. 1 described as follows…

On Saturday May 9, 1942, the lives of Japanese Americans in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, were forever changed. They had until noon to dispose of their homes and possessions, and then they were forced to leave everything behind—the familiar streets and neighborhoods, their livelihoods, the communities they had built. In the euphemistic language of U.S. government policy, they and other Japanese Americans all along the West Coast—some 120,000 individuals, 37,000 of whom resided in Los Angeles—were “evacuated” to “relocation centers.” In reality, they were loaded onto busses and trains and shipped off to concentration camps where they would live for years, in some cases until after the end of the war.

The forced expulsion of Americans of Japanese descent from Los Angeles and other cities and towns was extensively documented by professional photographers. A few photographs of families and individuals waiting among suitcases and bags to be taken to the camps have come to stand as icons of the incarceration. But as renowned Japanese media artist Masaki Fujihata’s ambitious and affecting public art project demonstrates, the archive deserves and repays more focused attention. Timed to open on the same Saturday in May that, eighty years ago, suddenly turned Little Tokyo into a ghost town, BeHere / 1942 uses a variety of media forms—from hyper-enlarged photographs to cutting-edge augmented reality technology—to help us see, in a new light, this dark moment in the history of Los Angeles, and of the United States.